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Chapter One of Great Gatsby

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Introduction

Write about the ways in which Fitzgerald tells the story of the Great Gatsby in Chapter One... The Great Gatsby was written by F. Scott Fitzgerald during the 1920's, a period renowned for the moral failure of a society fixated with class and privilege. This obsession was dubbed "The American Dream" and through the Great Gatsby, Fitzgerald presents us with the conflict between the illusion and reality of the dream. Chapter one is very significant as it lays the foundations for the conflict and essentially prepares the reader for upcoming events. The novel begins in the present tense and is told through Fitzgerald's mouthpiece, Nick Carraway. It quickly becomes obvious to the reader that Nick is the narrator and moral focus of the story. His narration begins with some self-analysis, desperately trying to pin down pertinent aspects of his character. ...read more.

Middle

He finds himself living in a close 'proximity of millionaires', including his neighbour Jay Gatsby who lives in an impressive 'hotel de Ville' mansion right next door. The description of houses and locations in chapter one is hugely influential on the ideals that Fitzgerald has implemented in the story. Nick and Gatsby both reside in West Egg, a less fashionable suburb than nearby East Egg. West egg connotes the westward movement of followers of the American Dream. It symbolises new wealth, hope and prosperity. Whereas East Egg represents old America with its greed, arrogance and established riches. Although they are both located on the East Coast, Fitzgerald could still be hinting at the similar divide that exists between the west and east coasts of America. After jumping through different periods of history, 'Civil War... Columbus Story', the chapter gradually focuses more and more until eventually we meet more characters such as Tom and Daisy Buchanan. ...read more.

Conclusion

By the end of Chapter One, readers get the impression that Nick is an unreliable narrator with false credentials. He had earlier claimed to be non-judgemental, yet on numerous occasions he is scornful and condemning 'hard mouth and a supercilious manner.' This feeling amongst readers is developed further as it becomes evident that Nick is selective in what he says. For example, no real details are revealed to the reader regarding Gatsby or the affair with the girl in the west. It's almost as if Fitzgerald is tantalising the reader and drawing us in by deliberately holding back information. To conclude, Fitzgerald draws upon a number of techniques in order to set the scene and tell the story in chapter one. Analysis, symbols, descriptions and Dialogue effectively combine together to introduce the plot and entice readers in. However every one of these techniques revolves around Nick, who is fundamental to the novel. As I mentioned earlier, Nick acts as the narrative mouthpiece for Fitzgerald and without him, The Great Gatsby would not be a great read. ...read more.

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